101 Seminars

What is History 101?

The History 101 seminar is designed to guide you through the capstone experience of your undergraduate education as a history major: the researching and writing of your senior thesis. Successful completion of this challenging but rewarding endeavor requires you to do the work of a historian. Ultimately, this translates to producing a piece of scholarship—in this case, a 25-30 page final paper—in which you articulate and defend a historical interpretation/argument rooted in extensive primary source research, informed by thorough secondary source reading. See preparation guidelines below. Click on "Senior Thesis" to the right for full instructions on the History senior thesis. 


Spring 2021 Registration

If you would like to take History 101 this fall, for the best chance at your first choice of seminar please fill out this online form by 5pm on Friday, 10/23101 Seminar Preferences Form

PLEASE NOTE: Make sure you're logged into your Berkeley.edu account to access this form.

Please indicate your top three choices, and include a short explanation of why your top choice makes the most sense to you. If you have a serious scheduling issue, please mention it. We really want to be certain that every 101 student is in the best possible section. If you miss the deadline, please email Leah when you realize you have missed it. You will still have a spot in a 101, just possibly not your first choice.

We will place you into your 101 section during the week of October 26th. You will not be able to enroll in the class yourself. When you are added we will attempt to override your units, and any time conflict, but please be aware that you need to resolve any real time conflicts that exist. 101 classes may not meet at every scheduled session, but you must be available at these posted times.


Spring 2021 Course Descriptions

Here are the instructors, schedules, and descriptions for the Spring 101 courses. 

101.001: Ancient and Medieval Topics

Instructor: Christopher Bonura 
TuTh 11am-1pm
Class #:24749

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on ancient and medieval topics. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. The seminar requires that students work as historians, that is, produce a solid, compelling, and well-organized piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing. 


101.002: Early Modern Europe Topics

Instructor: Ethan Shagan 
TuTh 2-4pm
Class #:24750

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on early modern Europe. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. The seminar requires that students work as historians, that is, produce a solid, compelling, and well-organized piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing.


101.003: Modern Europe Topics

Instructor: John Connelly
MW 2-4pm 

Class #:24751

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on modern Europe, as well as transnational or comparative examinations of Europe in the world. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. The seminar requires that students work as historians, that is, produce a solid, compelling, and well-organized piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing.


101.004: U. S. Topics: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity in the United States

Instructor: Bernadette Perez
TuTh 4-6pm 
Class #:24752

This seminar will guide history majors through the process of developing a capstone project on race, ethnicity, and/or indigeneity in the United States. Transnational, borderlands, and comparative projects are also welcome. Common readings will introduce students to frameworks for understanding the historical experiences of diverse ethnic Americans, peoples of color, and Indigenous peoples. Class meetings will also focus on the building blocks of independent research and writing within the discipline of history. We will work on crafting compelling research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, contextualizing original analysis within existing scholarship (historiography), and building persuasive and feasible theses. Over the course of the semester, students will develop and complete a 25-30-page final research paper that advances a convincing and well-supported historical interpretation. Although challenging, students will have the opportunity to let their questions, interests, and personal histories shape new ways of approaching the study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. In the process, students will hone skills useful well beyond their undergraduate careers: clear and concise writing, critical and nuanced thinking, and self-directed project management.


101.005: U.S. Social and Cultural History

Instructor: David Henkin 
MW 3-5pm 
Class #:24753

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on social and cultural U.S. history, including (but not limited to) commerce, labor, entertainment, domestic life, and public space. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, incrementally building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. This challenging but rewarding seminar requires that students do the work of a historian, that is, produce a solid and compelling piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing.


101.006: U. S. Topics: America in the Twentieth Century

Instructor: Daniel Kelly
TuTh 3-5pm 
Class #:24754

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on the U. S. in the twentieth century including intellectual and cultural history, and the history of conservatism. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, incrementally building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. This challenging but rewarding seminar requires that students do the work of a historian, that is, produce a solid and compelling piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing.


101.007: Latin America and the Carribbean Topics 

Instructor: Rebecca Herman Weber
TuTh 2-4pm 
Class #:24755

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as transnational or comparative examinations of Latin America in the world. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, incrementally building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources (especially in Spanish and Portuguese when possible), situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. This challenging but rewarding seminar requires that students do the work of a historian, that is, produce a solid and compelling piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing.


101.008: East Asia from 1500 to 1950

Instructor: Lewis Bremner
MW 2-4pm
Class #:33056

This class aims to support students with thesis projects on East Asia from 1500 - 1950. Class meetings and assignments will revolve around independent research and writing, incrementally building toward a 25-30-page final research paper. We will work together on developing research questions, finding and analyzing primary sources, situating original analysis in relation to prior scholarship, and developing a well-written final paper. This challenging but rewarding seminar requires that students do the work of a historian, that is, produce a solid and compelling piece of scholarly research. In the process, students will also sharpen valuable transferable skills of time management, research, critical thinking, and clear writing.

Preparation Guidelines

  1. Identify/describe a topic you would like to investigate for your 101 (thesis). Your topic should be narrowly focused, something that you can examine thoroughly, rather than superficially. As a general rule, it is always better to cast your research net deep instead of wide, to cover less in order to uncover more. Your initial topic description should be informed by a preliminary investigation into both primary and secondary sources (see #3 and #4 below) in order to demonstrate how they address and inform the topic you've chosen. This will help establish your topic's feasibility and viability for your thesis. In other words for #1 to mean anything, you'll need to be sure to do #3 and #4.

  2. Spell out a question (or two or three) about your chosen topic that you would like to answer in your your thesis. Your question(s) must be evaluative, i.e., of the "how" / "why" variety, and not normative, i.e., of the "should" or "ought" variety. Evaluative questions require you to take and defend a position, to advance a thesis claim (i.e., interpretation / argument), in response to them.

  3. Conduct the research necessary to (a) identify a primary source base or primary source bases and then (b) begin conducting preliminary research into those primary sources. Ultimately, your final paper will depend on having a rich array of primary sources available to address the research question(s) you pose (#2) for your topic (#1). Many good research questions simply cannot be answered because they lack primary sources. Consequently, it's essential that you choose a research topic and question(s) that has a wealth of available and accessible primary sources. Ultimately, the strength of your thesis will be a function of the persuasiveness/forcefulness of the thesis claim you advance in your final 101 in light of the narrowly-focused thoroughness of the predominantly primary evidence you marshal to support your thesis claim.

  4. Familiarize yourself with some of the historiography (secondary) sources about your chosen topic, including the interpretations they advance and primary sources they employ.